Jessie Anna Rucker on Supporting Local Communities: The Only Answer Is to Give Back
I talked to Jessie Anna Rucker, the USA Chapter lead from Grow Remote, a group of enthusiastic people who use remote work as a tool for community development in rural areas.
Jessie Anna Rucker is truly an amazing and inspiring person. She lost her parents when she was still a teenager, has worked numerous jobs since she was nine, traveled the world very young, and was exposed to poverty, refugees, and religious conflicts. During one of those moments of desperation, she met a career coach who suggested she apply for Grow Remote, a community of people changing the rural areas with remote work. And she did. Now, Jessie is the USA Chapter lead, who helps local communities grow and scale. Here is her story.
Hello Jessie, and welcome to the interview with Running Remote! How did you get passionate about the arts? Why did you decide to switch degrees and pursue a career in science?
Art is just in my blood, my family is full of creators and artists, it’s been that way for generations…
I started studying at college after my father died when I was 15 years old. I felt that I couldn’t relate to my peers in high school because of the whole mourning process, so I dedicated myself to graduating and graduated at 16 and then just continued on with my studies at the junior college studying art because that was a great expressive outlet for me at the time.
Then, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, she died a few months later in a hospice. I wasn’t ready to transfer, so I continued to study changing my focus to physical sciences. When I had the credits that I needed to transfer into engineering, I decided I was ready to transfer. I chose to go to UCSC where I also continued to pursue my interests in diverse subjects, nanotechnology, electrical engineering, bioinformatics, and mathematics.
You’ve had lots of jobs over the years, can you please briefly describe your previous work experience?
I was more of an English tutor, teaching ESL. I just follow my heart, and that happened to lead me along a long path of several different jobs; often simultaneously, across many industries, and disciplines.
You represent Grow Remote. What does the company do? How did you get involved with the organization? What’s your position there?
Grow Remote is a non-profit organization that was founded in Ireland last year. They grow the remote workforce in rural areas to help build community and improve social issues such as lack of internet access, economic depression, brain drain, etc. The focus is rural; however, cities are also represented.
The organization is all volunteer-run, and chapter leaders work in their local regions using remote work to facilitate the solutions that make sense for their specific region. Chapter leaders crowd-source solutions, and we all help each other to innovative, create, and support one another.
We build community and use the partnerships that are acquired along the way to solve problems with a win-win model.
I was actually at a point of desperation with the state of job hunting after submitting hundreds and hundreds of applications. I cried out for help and Magda from Remote-How suggested that I contact her colleague George, a remote career coach. During one of our discussions, he recommended that I check out Grow Remote. I fell in love with the concept and started my own chapter right away.
Now, I am the USA Chapter lead, I work to help incubate new chapter and support them as they get started, act as a test case to help the program scale internationally, through organization and collaboration. We are young and still getting organized, but we are extremely impactful!
What was your ultimate mission of attending the conference in Bali?
My mission at Running Remote was to learn from the speakers, connect with people, and understand how Grow Remote can serve the current and future remote working community in the most impactful way. It was a huge success!
Do you think the future of the workforce is remote? When do you think the office culture will die out?
I think the workforce is already remote, I do think it will continue to grow; but, I don’t think brick and mortar will be obsolete…
Have you given any public talks or presentations over the years?
I was a missionary as a kid and public speaking was a regular thing with that, along with performances. I have presented at conferences for both work and research throughout the years. Topics ranging from oral hygiene, testimony, skits, plays, nanotechnology, automotive industry, etc…
I am planning to speak at a few remote work conferences in the near future. I am especially interested in inspiring people to find a purpose in having a positive impact, not simply making the most money to shove into a nest egg that will not go with them to the grave. The impact is immortal. There are different topics though, and I’m still kind in the ideation stage.
Why do you think it’s important to participate and organize conferences within the communities?
I think the concentration of human resources with a similar end goal is invaluable… I have been invited to speak at conferences, offered two jobs, and been offered all-expenses-paid trips all over the world. It’s not the same as sitting at home watching the YouTube videos after the fact… You get to learn about the speakers and gain an understanding of how and why they chose their path and learn from an infinite pool of knowledge in real-time.
How do you think remote work impacts your work-life balance?
I have worked at least two jobs or gigs or what-have-you since I was 9 years old — I am a textbook workaholic, I traveled the world young and I was exposed early to poverty, orphans, convalescence, religious conflict, refugees, etc…
I quickly understood that greed will only perpetuate the suffering of the human race and the only answer is to give back. I returned home with a burning desire to learn as much as I could and build the skills that I would need to have an impact and leave a legacy of love instead of a bank account full of cash. There is one rule I live by — to serve others, I must take care of myself.
My primal needs are:
- Mental Clarity
If I can achieve these five things in my day, then I can serve others effectively.
Do you have any hobbies? What are they?
I am a book collector and a pet sitter. I love yoga, disc golf, hiking, and swimming.
Please share your thoughts and impressions from Running Remote and highlight any particular talk you liked most.
I was very excited to attend the event and it exceeded my expectations, although I did try to enter it without any expectations. I was most inspired by Ilyas!
If you have an interesting story to tell, please ping me on Twitter @ MaryVorontsov I would love to hear from you and share your story.